Communications – Handle With Care!
One of the biggest challenges we face as humans is communicating effectively. Failure to communicate effectively collapses relationships or entire countries.
Have you noticed that you’ve tried to communicate something and it wasn’t received as well as you had hoped? Or that you didn’t get the result you were looking for? A raise, a vacation, a great massage, a hug, a thoughtful discussion with your boyfriend, spouse or child?
In order to deliver a highly effective communication you need to consider who you’re communicating to and how they are likely to react.
You need to think it through. How can you best deliver your communication? It takes more time, but good results will always be worth the effort.
Because this topic encompasses so many areas, I want to focus on effectively communicating your boundaries.
As a coach, I teach women, and men, how to draw good firm boundaries. Most women have never given themselves permission to have boundaries so they don’t have practice communicating them. So it’s not surprising when that communication comes out in a counterproductive way. For instance, too aggressive, too soft or too vague.
And since we want our boundaries to be honored, I also teach clients how to communicate them to get the best results.
First though, you get huge points for speaking up for yourself – communicating your boundary. As you practice and get more comfortable speaking up for yourself, you will want to consider who you are speaking to and what style is most effective.
Let’s look at some examples to give you some ideas on style and delivery.
If you’re dealing with someone who is aggressive, you’ll need to be very firm with them and match their tone. So a pushy sibling or in-law will need a firm tone in order to be heard. Don’t be rude, nasty or hostile. Just very firm. Watch your tone – don’t allow any anger to creep in, just be firm. You have a right to your boundary.
If you’re dealing with someone who is a boundary pusher, you will want to be firm and a little tough. They won’t hear you otherwise. This can be a boss, mother, in-law, spouse, child or co-worker. It doesn’t matter who they are, what matters is how they communicate. Match it. You need to be aggressive with a boundary pusher.
If you are dealing with a gentle person, be gentle. There is probably no need to be aggressive. You can be gently firm. Don’t get wishy-washy or explain too much. Don’t apologize for drawing a boundary. Just be clear and gentle. If you’re too aggressive they will be hurt and then they won’t hear you.
Think about who you are communicating to and how they will react. You want your boundary to be heard the first time, it’s so much easier that way.
But if it’s not heard and you need to toughen up a little, then do that. It’s often trial and error. It can also depend on the mood of the other person.
You wouldn’t ask your boss for a raise if he or she were in a bad mood. But what if the boss is always in a bad mood? Then do your best and make your case. Be clear and upbeat.
If you want your husband or boyfriend to take a vacation with you and you know they are reluctant to take vacations, drawing an aggressive boundary with them would be too much.
Instead, sell it! It’s not only appropriate, it’s necessary. Let them see your excitement, tell them where you want to go, how much it will cost and then tell them how much you’d love to share the experience with them. Then ask them to join you.
Watch your tone. Watch your energy. Be clear, upbeat, kind and firm about how important this is to you.
If you’re dealing with a mother-in-law who is trying to control your life – for example by telling you what your husband likes or doesn’t like, or how to raise your baby – politely tell her you’ll figure it out. Thank her for sharing and politely tell her you’re capable of figuring it out on your own, and if you need help you’ll be sure to ask for it.
Again, watch your tone. No need for judgment or hostility. Be firm. Be clear and be kind. Most in-laws are just trying to help and they’ve forgotten that they didn’t like it when their in-laws butted in. You are gently reminding them when you tell them you’ll figure it out.
If you want any feedback on a communication challenge you’re having, email me and I’ll answer you in my next ezine.
Here’s my best advice – practice. Practice speaking up for yourself. Allow yourself in the beginning to do it anyway you can. No judgment if you get too aggressive or not aggressive enough. Just stand up for yourself. Then begin to practice being firm and kind.
Remember you get huge points for speaking up. And after time and practice, you want to adjust your style so the person on the other end has the best chance of hearing you and responding and not reacting. You’re responsible for doing your best, the rest is their responsibility.
Choose to speak up for yourself. Choose to be firm and kind. Choose to think of your audience. Choose to do your best and then let go.
Imagine the possibilities….
© Carol Chanel
A great book to help you with effective communications is “Getting Through to People” by Dr. Jesse Nirenberg.
This book teaches you “how to break through the mental and emotional barriers that continually obstruct the flow of ideas from one person to another.”
Although it’s no longer in print, this book is sold through small booksellers on Amazon.
If you find that you are having a communication challenge with someone, I encourage you to read this book and to search for others that will also help you.
You can learn to effectively communicate. And you can also learn when to give up because the other person will never be receptive. Both will allow you to have a more enjoyable, less stressful life.
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